CeLTA Receives Two-Year $800,000 Testing Proficiency Grant

MSU’s Center for Language Teaching Advancement (CeLTA) Receives Two-Year $800K Testing Proficiency Grant. Project to evaluate proficiency assessment’s impact on language teaching, and learning.

The Center for Language Teaching Advancement (CeLTA) at Michigan State University (MSU) has received a two-year Language Flagship Proficiency Initiative grant from the Institute of International Education under the National Security Education Program. The project is a cross-unit initiative within the College of Arts & Letters involving faculty from CeLTA, the English Language Center, the Department of Linguistics and Germanic, Slavic, Asian, and African Languages, and the Department of Romance and Classical Studies. 

cal_website_news_technologycomputer.jpgMSU will evaluate the impact of proficiency assessment practices on language teaching and learning. The goals of this initiative are to: 

1) evaluate current proficiency levels; 

2) work with programs to meet their goals of promoting global language skills and proficiency goals; 

3) document the impact of proficiency assessment on outcomes; and 

4) share best practices in proficiency-based curricula with other institutions. 

Language proficiency testing is a key tool in language acquisition to ensure that language programs produce global professionals through a language-infused undergraduate experience.

This project will develop a broad-based testing program of speaking, reading, and listening skills based on the standards of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) in all four years of MSU’s undergraduate Chinese, French, Russian, and Spanish language programs. The grant provides a unique opportunity for faculty of different languages to work together, learn from, and inform one another.

Dr. Susan Gass, the grant’s co-PI with Dr. Paula Winke, says, “It is anticipated that this innovative project will have a broad impact on the MSU language teaching community. Our project team has a deep understanding of language testing, language instruction, and language learning and this grant will offer new and exciting insights into current language teaching practices and ways to integrate assessment into those practices.” 


The desired outcomes of the project are sustainable proficiency testing as well as communicative and task-based teaching practices that will increase the number of MSU students reaching high levels of proficiency. This project is a necessary step in MSU’s ongoing proficiency-oriented practices. Additionally, MSU will serve as a model to institutions regionally and nationally in the effort to advance language-learning approaches and curricula designed to promote proficiency. 

CeLTA Formed in August 2008, MSU’s Center for Language Teaching Advancement (CeLTA) is housed within the College of Arts & Letters and assists with the administration and coordination of language offerings, best teaching practices, the sharing of curricula across languages and departments, and promotion of service learning and outreach.